What is Autism? (Definition)
According to “Autism Speaks”, Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. However, symptoms and severity vary widely. Some children with autism have only mild impairments, while others have more obstacles to overcome. Symptoms of autism are usually noticed first by parents and other caregivers sometime during the child’s first 3 years. Although autism is present at birth (congenital), signs of the disorder can be difficult to identify or diagnose during infancy.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Autism
Some common repetitive behaviors among people with autism include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping and twirling, arranging and rearranging objects, and repeating sounds, words, or phrases. Sometimes the repetitive behavior is self-stimulating, such as wiggling fingers in front of the eyes.
Trouble with social relationships and interactions
Children with autism often have problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture. They may also have problems establishing friendships with children, or understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
Signs of speech and language difficulties
Signs may include speaking in an abnormal tone of voice (or with an odd rhythm or pitch), repeating the same words or phrases over and over, responding to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
Exhibits signs of inflexibility
Signs may include following a rigid routine, experiences difficulty adapting to any changes in schedule or environment, unusual attachments to toys or strange objects (keys, light switches, or rubber bands, etc.), preoccupation with numbers or symbols (e.g., memorizing and reciting random facts), or spending long periods of time watching moving objects such as a ceiling fan.
According to the National Autism Association, some specific signs of autism spectrum disorder might include the following:
- Not respond to their name (the child may appear deaf)
- Not point at objects or things of interest, or demonstrate interest
- Not play “pretend” games
- Avoid eye contact
- Want to be alone
- Have difficulty understanding, or showing understanding, or other people’s feelings or their own
- Have no speech or delayed speech
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions (over or under-sensitivity) to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
- Have low to no social skills
- Avoid or resist physical contact
- Demonstrate little safety or danger awareness
- Reverse pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
- Gives unrelated answers to questions
Experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above does not necessarily mean that your child had autism. As with most diseases, many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions. However, if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to get checked by your doctor or healthcare professional.
See below for updated news and information regarding Autism including new medical research, treatments and advancements.
Latest Autism News
Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Children Exposed to Complications Before or During Birth at Higher Risk of Developing Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Research News: Study finds alterations in both blood-brain barrier and intestinal permeability in individuals with autism
Autism Research News: Increased Reaction to Stress Linked to Gastrointestinal Issues in Children with Autism